It's getting close to the biggest party night of the year, the night when a lot of people celebrate the arrival of brand new year by making sure they start it with a massive hangover.
If you want to celebrate New Year's Eve with a raucous and exuberant evening of drinking and merry-making, you probably have your choice of parties at friends' houses, and bars and clubs in the Bradenton area will have plenty going on.
But every year brings more choices for Bradenton residents who want a family-friendly New Year's Eve celebration.
Here's a selective look at some of the local options for ringing out the old and ringing in 2015. There's something for drinkers and nondrinkers, for kids and for grown-ups. However you choose to celebrate, don't drink and drive.
Main Street Live New Year's Eve: Old Main Street, Bradenton
If you're looking for the biggest party in Bradenton on New Year's Eve, look no further than Old Main Street between Manatee and Third avenues. The street is closed to traffic starting at 2 p.m. and the party gets started at 4 p.m. The live music is provided by Big Daddy and, of course, there's a countdown to the ball drop at midnight. It's free and open to the public, and there will be plenty of food and beverages (alcoholic and otherwise) for sale.
Beachhouse New Year's Eve Celebration: 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach
The annual Beachhouse New Year's Eve fireworks show includes several viewing/dining options. Tables under the covered pavilion are available for $100 each, with seating for up to six guests. The reservation includes a Champagne toast, party favors, music by DJ Chuck Caudill, dancing and a view of the fireworks show. (Food and beverages are extra.) Seating elsewhere on the deck and inside the dining room will be first-come, first-serve. You can always just sit on the beach near the restaurant to enjoy the fireworks for free. Reservations and information: 941-779-2222 or groupersandwich.com.
New Year's Eve at Aces Live: 4343 Palma Sola Blvd., Bradenton.
Ari and the Alibis, a great area band that mixes blues, funk, soul and jazz entertain the crowd. Party favors and a Champagne toast at midnight make for a festive atmosphere. Cover is $10. Information: 941-795-3886, aceslivemusic.com.
Annual Shamrock Shiver Charity Plunge: Gulf Drive and 12th Street South, Bradenton Beach
This will be that seventh year that a growing group of revelers gathers at Clancy's Irish Pub for a dip into the chilly water on New Year's Day. Dippers get pledges to raise money, and the event has raised more than $100,000 for local charities iover the years. The annual Shamrock Shiver Charity Plunge is set for noon, Jan. 1, followed by a Post Plunge Party at Clancy's Irish Pub, 6218 Cortez Road, Bradenton, with live music by the Jack Tamburin Band. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Proceeds go to Caring for Children Charities. Information: 941-952-1109 or 941-794-2489.
WSLR New Year's Eve Celebration: Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center, 525 Kumquat Ct., Sarasota
A family-friendly New Year's Eve party, from 8 p.m.-1 a.m., features Renesito Avich, the David Smash Band, and The Dram. At midnight there's kumquat drop. Tickets: $10-$15, children ages 16 and younger are free. Information: 941-894-6469 or wslr.org.
Sarasota Downtown New Year's Eve Party: Main Street, Sarasota
You don't have to wait until the sun goes down to start celebrating New Year's Eve. The festivities in downtown Sarasota start at 2 p.m. with rides and other activities. As day gives way to night, street dancing with DJs and live music from some of the area's best bands (including Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones, who rocked the crowd at the recent Bradenton Blues Festival) kicks in.
Just before midnight there's a countdown and then the Pineapple Drop at the corner of Lemon Avenue and Main Street. Free admission. Information: sarasotanewyearsparty.com
First Night St. Petersburg: various locations in downtown, St. Petersburg
All over the county, cities offer First Night celebrations to let people celebrate the new year with arts and entertainment instead of alcohol. St. Petersburg has the biggest and oldest one around these parts.
It runs from 4 p.m. until midnight at venues along downtown St. Petersburg's sidewalks. Kids's festivities include a "FirstKids" event from 4-7 p.m. a petting zoo, an LED light-making station, puppet shows and fire and ice shows.
The sidewalks will be full of street performers and live music by various bands, and there's a dragon procession at 11 p.m. and fireworks at midnight. Admission buttons are available online for $10 adults, $5 children ages 6-12. Prices are higher at the event. Children ages 5 and younger get in free. Information: 727-823-8906 or firstnightstpete.com.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.